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Depression stage


Disciplines > Change Management > The Kübler-Ross grief cycle > Depression stage

Symptoms | Treatment | See also


In the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle, the fifth stage is one of paralyzed depression. In order, the stages are: Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Testing, Acceptance.


After denial, anger and bargaining, the inevitability of the news eventually (and not before time) sinks in and the person reluctantly accepts that it is going to happen. From the animation of anger and bargaining, they slump into a slough of despond. In this deep depression, they see only a horrible end with nothing beyond it. In turning in towards themselves, they turn away from any solution and any help that others can give them.

Depression may be seen in a number of passive behaviors. In the workplace, this includes physical absenteeism, long lunch breaks and mediocre work performance. It can also appear in tearful and morose episodes where the person's main concern is focused on their own world.

In this phase, the person may now be blaming themselves as they take responsibility for their action where something has gone wrong. In previous phases, they may have been blaming others or the situation.


The first thing you can do with people who are in depression is to be there with them, accepting them in all their misery. People who are depressed feel very much alone and you company, even though it may not seem that way, is likely to be welcome.

The second thing to do is to keep them moving. It is easy to get stuck in depression, and the longer they stay there, the deeper into the mud they are likely to slide. So keep up a steady stream of support, showing them that there is light ahead and encouraging them to reach towards it.

In the workplace, provision of professional coaching, counselling and other support can do a lot to help people recognize their depression and find a way to clamber out of the pit.

See also

Coping Mechanisms

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, On Death and Dying, Macmillan, NY, 1969

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